Monday, March 2, 2009

The Problem With a Good God

"The terrible thing is that a perfectly good God is in this matter hardly less formidable than a Cosmic Sadist. The more we believe that God hurts only to heal, the less we can believe that there is any use in begging for tenderness. A cruel man might be bribed - might grow tired of his vile sport - might have a temporary fit of mercy, as alcoholics have fits of sobriety. But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would have been useless. But is it credible that such extremities of torture should be necessary for us? Well, take your choice. The tortures occur. If they are unnecessary, then there is no God or a bad one. If there is a good God, then these tortures are necessary. For no even moderately good Being could possibly inflict or permit them if they weren’t. Either way, we’re in for it.” ~ C. S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I think we often miss this when we consider what a "good God" would be like. We want to believe that a truly "good God" would not discipline us or allow us to take a path that will hurt us. We try to fit God into a box where His goodness is subject to our desires. Is that good though? Is a parent who does not discipline their child doing that child a favor? It is painful to have a broken bone set, but if the medic acquiesced to the pleas to stop before the bone was set would that be good? In each case the child or the injured individual may be thankful at the time, but in the long run they would be hurt a great deal more. Thankfully we have a wise and a good God who knows better than to stop before He is finished. Though it is also kind of frightening to believe in such a God because we then have to come to grips with the reality that He may do something for our good that is extremely unpleasant. There are times when we may wish that He would be subject to bribes like some kind of "Cosmic Sadist". Many of us have been through such times, however, and can now say, "While the cuts were deep and the wounds took a long time to heal, I would not go back and change it for God did use it for the good."

By His Grace,

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